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Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Rochester Public Schools is making a major shift to its covid mask mandate policy.

Starting next Monday (March 7), masks will be strongly recommended, but not required when individuals “are in a building that is owned, leased, or operated by or on behalf of the District, outside of District facilities but on the grounds of those facilities, riding on school buses or other forms of transportation sponsored by Rochester Public Schools, or when participating in extracurricular activities.”

 

The RPS Board approved the policy change at its Tuesday meeting after reviewing and discussing the proposal that was strongly recommended by Superintendent Kent Pekel.

He told the board the number of cases in Rochester Public Schools has declined significantly from the peak of the pandemic and is likely to continue to decrease. He said there were only 63 confirmed RPS cases during the week of Feb. 21.

The board’s decision was unanimous.

There will be exceptions when masks will be required, such as an increase in covid cases at individual schools.

When 5% of the students and staff who attend and/or work in a school or facility test positive for Covid-19 during a weekly COVID reporting period:

  • Face coverings will be required for all students and staff who attend and/or work in that school or facility for two full weeks.
  • Face coverings will be required for all participants in and spectators at extracurricular activities at that school or facility for two full weeks.
  • Face coverings will be required while riding on school buses or other forms of transportation sponsored by Rochester Public Schools for two full weeks. If a bus route serves students from another school(s) where students are not required to wear face coverings, students from the other school(s) will also be required to wear face coverings for two weeks.

Other exceptions from the change:

  • Face coverings are required for students in Rochester Public Schools early childhood programs who are younger than five years of age
  • For staff who test positive for Covid and who have completed the five-day isolation period followed by a negative test, face coverings are required in Rochester Public School facilities for days 6-10 following their initial positive Covid test.
  • Face coverings are required for staff in Rochester Public Schools health services offices who provide direct services to students.
  • Face coverings are required for students who are demonstrating symptoms of Covid or who are being sent home for other health-related reasons and are waiting to return home.

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